March 23, 2015 at 5:55 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay group to close if Supreme Court rules for marriage

Evan Wolfson

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Evan Wolfson, president of the New York-based Freedom to Marry, said he’s hoping his group’s work as one of the lead advocates for marriage equality will no longer be needed if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that gays and lesbians couples have a constitutional right to marry.

In an interview published on Monday by the Huffington Post, Wolfson noted that the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on April 28 in four cases that are expected to prompt a decision on whether same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states. The court is expected to hand down a decision on the matter in June.

“Assuming we do win the long-sought, hard-fought victory in June, Freedom to Marry — this campaign — will have achieved its mission,” the Huffington Post quoted Wolfson as saying. “And we will end the campaign. We will close down,” he told the online publication in an interview.

He added in the interview, “Just roughly speaking, assuming we win in June, I would expect that a year from now, I’ll be out of a job.”

Wolfson, an attorney, founded and became executive director of Freedom to Marry in 2003 at a time when public opinion polls showed that marriage equality had little support among the general public. The following year close to a dozen states voted to pass laws or amend their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage.

Wolfson has been credited with mapping a long-range strategy for what he called changing the hearts and minds of the American people on the subject by demonstrating how gay and lesbian couples — like opposite-sex couples — should enjoy the right to marry to protect their families.

Since he launched Freedom to Marry, 37 states and D.C. have legalized same-sex marriage.

Wolfson told the Huffington Post that marriage equality advocates working on the pending U.S. Supreme Court cases are not taking anything for granted and were moving ahead “100 percent full steam” to present the best possible arguments before the high court.

But if the court rules in favor of marriage equality he said Freedom to Marry would begin a “strategic wind-down” process that would include archiving its voluminous records, sharing information with movement colleagues, and preparing an oral history.

“Once it’s all completed, we will close down,” he told the Huffington Post.

When asked by the Washington Blade what he plans to do if Freedom to Marry closes about a year from now, as he hopes it will, Wolfson said he hasn’t had time to consider such plans.

“Though I am asked constantly what’s next, I am not giving it any real thought, let alone exploring what’s out there, until after we — knock on wood — win in June,” he told the Blade.

If the high court renders a favorable decision, he said, “I will give thought to what jobs I might want to do or causes I might want to take on, what positions I might be able to get.”

Wolfson noted he’s been working on LGBT rights causes, including marriage equality, for over 30 years.

“I need to figure out who I am when I am not ‘Mr. Marriage,’ he said. “And I don’t want to get distracted by thinking about that now, or worrying that I might be unemployed.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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